Brittany Ferries charts five-year recovery after being 'brought to its knees' by 70 per cent fall in passengers

A FERRY firm operating from Portsmouth has reported a £229 million drop in turnover at its annual general meeting in France – but its presidents says the business is ‘ready to bounce back’.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 1:54 pm

Brittany Ferries had to suspend and alter several services from Portsmouth and its other destinations due to the Covid-19 pandemic across 2020.

The company has reported a 70 per cent crash in passenger numbers – plummeting from 2,498,354 in 2019 to 752,102 across the last year.

Services between Cherbourg and Portsmouth were among the worst hit with traveller numbers declining from 143,506 to 17,394.

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Brittany Ferries laid up several of its ferries due to declining passenger numbers last year.

Now the firm is hingeing its recovery on a five-year plan and an economic forecast from an independent consultancy, which has suggested passenger numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels by next year.

The outlook has left the company’s president, Jean Marc Roue, confident that Brittany Ferries will ‘overcome the greatest challenge in its history’.

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He said: ‘Last year, the Covid crisis brought our company to its knees.

‘It struck a blow for the regions we serve and enrich, and the French seafarers we are proud to employ. Despite this, we are determined to remain part of the fabric of life in the north west of France as well as in the UK, Ireland and Spain and we must thank the regions of Normandy and Brittany, the banks and French state for their on-going support throughout this dark period.

‘With a collective will to return stronger, I believe Brittany Ferries will overcome the greatest challenge in its history.’

The company saw freight units drop by 20 per cent, despite winning three contracts from the UK government, designed to ensure the supply of essential goods like medicines in the event of potential Brexit disruption.

As well as supporting routes including Le Havre to Portsmouth, these contracts reinforced the strategic significance of Brittany Ferries’ route network to national governments, according to Brittany Ferries’ chief executive officer Christophe Mathieu.

He added: ‘There is no doubt 2021 will be another tough year for our company.

‘However, we will continue on the path to recovery, taking tough decisions if necessary but encouraged by the findings of this independent report which show the market is ready to bounce back.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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